Medline ® Abstract for Reference 3
of 'Radiation therapy techniques for newly diagnosed, non-metastatic breast cancer'
Localization: conventional and CT simulation.
Br J Radiol. 2006 Sep;79 Spec No 1:S36-49.
Recent developments in imaging and computer power have led to the ability to acquire large three dimensional data sets for target localization and complex treatment planning for radiation therapy. Conventional simulation implies the use of a machine capable of the same mechanical movements as treatment units. Images obtained from these machines are essentially two dimensional with the facility to acquire a limited number of axial slices to provide patient contours and tissue density information. The recent implementation of cone beam imaging on simulators has transformed them into three dimensional imaging devices able to produce the data required for complex treatment planning. The introduction of computed axial tomography (CT) in the 1970s was a step-change in imaging and its potential use in radiotherapy was quickly realised. However, it remained a predominantly diagnostic tool until modifications were introduced to meet the needs of radiotherapy and software was developed to perform the simulation function. The comparability of conventional and virtual simulation has been the subject of a number of studies at different disease sites. The development of different cross sectional imaging modalities such as MRI and positron emission tomography has provided additional information that can be incorporated into the simulation software by image fusion and has been shown to aid in the delineation of tumours. Challenges still remain, particularly in localizing moving structures. Fast multislice scanningprotocols freeze patient and organ motion in time and space, which may lead to inaccuracy in both target delineation and the choice of margins in three dimensions. Breath holding and gated respiration techniques have been demonstrated to produce four-dimensional data sets that can be used to reduce margins or to minimize dose to normal tissue or organs at risk. Image guided radiotherapy is being developed to address the interfraction movement of both target volumes and critical normal structures. Whichever method of localization and simulation is adopted, the role of quality control is important for the overall accuracy of the patient's treatment and must be adapted to reflect the networked nature of the process.
Kent Oncology Centre, Maidstone Hospital, Maidstone, Kent ME16 9QQ, UK.